Sometimes I still wonder when I lost faith in my religion. Was it when I left Catholic school after middle school or did it fade in the years that followed? Maybe if I had chosen my religious path myself, I wouldn't have strayed from it in the first place.
Catholicism runs deep in my family. My grandad was a deacon, my aunt was a nun and my dad attended an all-boys Catholic school. Naturally, when I was born, I was going to be Catholic. I was baptized by my grandad as a teeny tiny two-year-old. Young enough to have no recollection of this life-changing ritual. Of course, I attended Catholic school and continued completing the seven sacraments (not going to lie, I couldn't remember what they were called so I had to look it up). However, being Catholic comes at a cost. Private school was expensive AF. Lucky for me, my mom volunteered at one of the schools I went to and I was able to get financial aid. Each year the class size dropped, and by seventh grade, we had a whopping four people in my class. By the end of that year, no one wanted to return for their final year. Public school was my only option.
During my time in Catholic school, we went to church two to three times a week, depending on if there was a religious holiday. Tuesday mornings were reserved for Prayer Service and Friday mornings were a regular church service. Throughout the week, we'd pray the rosary, go to the chapel or have reconciliation. As if that wasn't enough, we'd have a period solely for religion. I still remember the textbook with the cheesy pictures of kids in them.
While I never outright questioned my religion to my parents or teachers, I still had a nag in the back of my mind that wouldn't go away. As a third or fourth grader, I'd wonder why I had to confess my sins. I mean, I was nine, how many sins had I really committed? If God was supposed to listen to and answer our prayers, then why didn't anything I pray for come true? How was I supposed to blindly put my trust in someone who I couldn't physically see? If there were thousands of other religions, what made mine so superior?
Once I left Catholic school, I slowly stopped going to church. My parents tried to go every Sunday, but every Sunday turned into every other week, then every other week turned into only on holidays. I never signed up for Confirmation, so I didn't have to attend Sunday school. There was nothing really left that kept me intertwined with my faith.
Fast forward to the present. I've learned a lot over the past couple of years, through both life experiences and in class. Without the looming shadow of any one religion hanging over my head, I've come up with my own conclusions about the world and the life I'm living—none of which have to do Catholicism.
I grew up thinking my religion was the only right religion. Since I started at such a young age, I was hidden from other possibilities and perspectives. But what bugs me the most is that I never really had the opportunity to make that choice for myself. In fact, it's a little unfair that kids don't really have a say in what they believe—they're just thrown into it. To me, it's the same idea as having the same political views as your parents. They're deciding how you see the world around you. Do I blame my parents for making this decision for me? Of course not. They were doing what they thought was the best option for me, just like millions of other parents do too. I'm actually grateful that they let me think freely rather than forcing me to participate in something I don't still believe.
I'm not knocking any religion or it's members. I believe that everyone is looking to put their faith in something in order to make sense of the world around us. You're entitled to your own beliefs, and regardless of what they are, I respect them as long as you respect mine.
Sometimes I still wonder if my beliefs would be different if I had been given the chance to choose what to believe in. But I would drive myself crazy dwelling on every little thing. As long as I'm happy with where I stand, that's all that really matters in the end.